After a closed-door meeting, President Reuven Rivlin and U.S. President Donald Trump both spoke about the fight against terror with a special emphasis on Iran and the mutual drive to promote the political process during press briefings at the president’s residence in Jerusalem.
“Mr. President, we are happy to see that America is back in the area. America is back again,” said President Rivlin in a veiled reference to former U.S. President Obama’s policy of retrenchment.
Rivlin opened by hailing the U.S. military strike on a Syrian government air base in early April in response to a chemical weapons attack reportedly ordered by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and further guaranteed Israel’s continued support in the fight against the Islamic State.
“We have not yet achieved our mission of living in peace with our neighbors, the Palestinians, and with the rest of the Arab world,” continued President Rivlin. “Our destiny—Palestinians and Jews—is to live together in this land. We must build trust and cooperation between us.”
“But we must be sure that we don’t go to sleep with a dream, and wake up with a nightmare: with Iran, ISIS and Hamas in our borders,” concluded Rivlin. “In order to dream, we need to be sure that Iran is out; out of our borders, out of Syria, out of Lebanon.”
President Trump echoed Rivlin’s sentiment about the Iranian threat and reiterated the statements he made in Riyadh about the willingness of the United States to create a strategic alliance with the Sunni world. Trump added that one of the only brighter points of the Iranian threat is the unique opportunity it presents for such a regional partnership between countries with a long history of enmity.
“Israel and the U.S. must declare together that Iran must never have nuclear weapons, that Iran must stop funding terrorism and militias immediately,” insisted Trump. “There is a consensus among Muslim countries regarding Iran and many have expressed a desire to help protect the region from extremism.”
These statements follow Trump’s unprecedented arms deal of nearly $110 billion with Saudi Arabia, which included tanks, artillery, radar systems, armored personnel carriers and Blackhawk helicopters.
Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) Director Amos Yadlin and INSS visiting fellow Eldad Shavit wrote that the U.S. willingness to partner with Saudi Arabia and to promote the Israeli-Palestinian peace process represents “the first opportunity in many years to set in motion a more substantive political process than in the past.”
“Therefore, Israel must avoid being pushed into the role of spoiler,” argued Yadlin and Shavit. “Even if it is currently not possible to reach a final status agreement with the Palestinians, a greater chance exists now than in the past to advance measures that will help implement interim arrangements that will prove acceptable to both the U.S. administration and the major Arab states, and with their encouragement, to the Palestinians as well.”
By Ilana Messika/TPS